Perkins 4-108 Issues, LED Lighting

A few days ago we discovered a broken bracket holding the alternator.  It was not something I was going to ignore, and certainly wasn’t going offshore with it broken like I found it.

The forward part of the L-bracket was shattered.  One side (aft) was still holding solidly, and the bolt was going through the two pieces.  However, a broken alternator bracket would cause vibration (which it did when it broke) and eventually would have torn the belt to shreds.

Therefore I called for a mechanic because I haven’t any way to do welds, and it’s one of the skills I don’t have (but I certainly am going to look into learning it now).  I am sure that I could have accomplished all the work the mechanic is doing, and if there’s ever a “next time” I’ll do it.  I’m am not the worlds best mechanic, and honestly, I don’t like getting dirty inside engines.  And since we’re on a dock, and I’m already paying for it… might as well have a professional look things over anyway.  I’m glad I did because I’d never have seen the exhaust leak before it killed us.

Technician came out rapidly (he was on-site), removed the bracket, did some testing and we discovered with our faces in the engine that the manifold was blowing a lot of exhaust out into the engine compartment.  Well, that opens into the bilge and cabin.  Long story short, that needed repairs so we didn’t… umm…. DIE.

He did attempt a repair, put new gaskets in and had the welds accomplished.  There was an extra bracket installed which was causing some of the problems with being misaligned!

But other issues ensued as well.  We noted some oil leaks (but had a hard time finding them exactly, finally he found them and one, the least one, is on the timing cover.  The major one is the valve cover area, and the gasket (after looking at it) is pretty old and ate up.  It’s either original, or it’s pretty old.

On Friday last he said “It will probably be Monday before I can come back”.  We said “OK” and then went and rented a car from Enterprise on their weekend special (10 bucks a day for Friday through Monday morning, giving us almost four full days for 38 bucks).  And Jason called and came back on Saturday to repair things because… he got the parts in sooner. Haha.

Ok, now we’d paid through Wednesday and had to extend a few days.  Today is Tuesday.  We used the car, turned it in yesterday.  Made a trip to Wilmington to find a Radio Shack and some parts I needed for electrical project I was doing.  (I found one, and 45 BUCKS later, I had my little project boxes, toggle switches and a fan for our bathroom and the composting toilet, which I’ll do at a later time when I have all those parts…).

So, it’s raining like hell yesterday after dropping the car, so we duck inside the Dead End Saloon up at the top of the hill to wait out the rain and we run into Jason who is running back and forth from the boat to the truck for tools.

Not good news.

  1. The valve cover DOES need a new gasket, badly.
  2. The timing system isn’t as bad.
  3. The mixing elbow from the exhaust is pretty bad, but we don’t know yet how bad.
  4. The injectors are spitting fuel through (which is what causes the white smoke on startup).
  5. The manifold attachments are missing a couple of nuts, but worse, even after new gaskets and sealing, it’s not good.  The thing has overheated and is slightly warped.

Bottom line, has to be retooled to make it flush again.  The valve cover needs removal and gasket replaced.  The timing area (a bunch of gears connected to the crankshaft) leaks oil and SHOULD be replaced but that’s a pretty big job.  The mixing elbow, once removed is trashed inside. Pieces of it are missing.  Causing back pressure.

So, we need a new one.  I told Jason to go ahead with the work.  We’re going to wind up doing a “monthly rate” here at the marina now I guess.  Only way to save a bit of money now. This is likely going to run about 3000 dollars for the amount of work.  /sigh

Anyway, we should have rebuilt injectors, new gasket on the valve cover, and a new mixing elbow, a replaced bracket on the alternator (and it is now PROPERLY aligned, which it wasn’t, which has been causing most of our issues with belts and vibration in the past).  Right now the engine valve-rocker cover is off and everything is covered with cloths.  Elbow is off.  Injectors are gone.  Fuel is all shut off.  We’re stuck on the dock for a few more days.

I spent today working on our lighting.  I don’t like the incandescent lamps (good for reading, bad for the batteries) and the LED lamps I’ve used don’t give us quite enough light for the interior when it is pretty dark outside.

A few months back I bought three rolls of LED strip lights that work on 12VDC (I had bought a tube of them at the hardware store before that, and discovered they were set up for 120VAC and it wasn’t an adaptor, but rather they use resisters and diodes to drop the voltages down to what LEDs can use, a couple of volts each).  Anyway, I can use the tube lights on the dock, when we have AC power only.  I couldn’t modify them safely to work with DC.  Instead I bought the strip lights and put them in my little project box.

I needed toggle switches and a way to mount them. I considered three or four methods including little project boxes, but Radio Shack is the only place to pick those up (unless I order them online from someone like Jameco, Digikey or someone similar).  I haven’t been anywhere that I could really order things, long enough lately to do it, so… RS it was.

So, I collected parts as I could.  A while back I saw someone else’s work with LED lights and liked their stuff.  It was Acadia, Jon and Marcia’s boat.  He had used little boxes like I wanted to do, and had mounted them using sticky tape (all of the parts are very light).

Today I put everything together and installed strips of LED tape on both sides, under the area where the grab rails run along the length of the ship.  So the settee area is now well lit when you turn on both sides.  I doubled up the starboard side for JoAnne because she sits on the “couch” a lot and reads there.  She has extra light for book reading now.  She loved it.

Starboard Side Lit up

Port side lit up

Another shot of the port side, the mess is the tools, looks like we need to dust again. lol

The next few images show the parts, and some of the tools I used to do the job.  The boxes are simply mounted with “doubled-sided-sticky tape” (the 3M stuff) and I tied the wiring to the existing lamps because honestly, I don’t feel like ripping out the wood that is between the overhead/deck above and the lamps.  There’s a hand full of wiring running inside there and if I take it all out, I’ll be rewiring the entire boat in no time – and I don’t have the time to start that project right now. haha Eventually, but not now.  I want to be able to sit there and read, look at charts at the table and even do soldering (like I did today with my makeshift light you see in the background, which doubles as an emergency anchor light).

The wire has sufficient current carrying capability for very short runs.  I wouldn’t use it for something other than LED lights.  It’s really meant for speaker wires, but it’s 16 gauge and can handle about 3 amps of current.  These lights pull about 500 milliamps (1/2 amp) on either side.  So a total of perhaps a bit under 2 Amps.

Close up of the LED tape strip, and the internal part of the switch box.  The wires are soldered internally and there’s a feed that is attached at the existing lamps using crimp connectors.

Used tywraps as strain relief inside to prevent accidentally pulling the wires from the box.  Since it’s inside of a box I used a bit of electrical tape to insulate the soldered connection.  It is inside a box which no one will see (except here in a picture) so I wasn’t looking for elegant or neat, just “good” and besides, I don’t have any shrink tubing or I’d have used that instead (old electrical wiring habits die hard sometimes).

The finished box.  Double sided sticky tape goes on that side, the whole thing gets “stuck” to the overhead (under the grab rails on the bulkhead) and hopefully will hold for a few years.  I cleaned the surface with acetone before sticking things in place. It’s painted with a flat white paint, so cleaned right up and the LED tape is also “3M” tape so it ought to hold a long time.

LED light strip in “action” – and yes, I noted the damage to the wood in the picture.  Apparently there was a leak there once.  It’s been patched somewhat and I probably should pull that all down and put up new wood or repatch it at least (which means I’ll be pulling new wires in as well to the electrical, therefore, that isn’t happening right now either. haha)

Starboard side, double strips front and back.  Port side only has one strip.

Sometime in the next few days if I get a chance, I’ll do the same thing with the galley area, because it’s in the walk-through to the aft cabin and very dark.  There are four lamps, two under the grab rail area, one behind above the engine, and one on the over head.  None of them provide enough light for the galley, or working in the galley, so that’s going to change soon.

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LED Lighting

I decided to drop a few bucks at Lowe’s yesterday on a strip of LED lighting in the hopes I could made a simple mod and run them on 12 Volts DC.

Unfortunately, that didn’t turn out to be the case.

After looking over the connectors I found that the lighting was designed around LEDs, which is nice, but the little “adapter” which I assumed (wrongly) would be a simple step down transformer, going from 120ac down to 12vdc was not.  Instead it was a device (called a rectifier, a set of diodes really) that converted the voltage to 120vdc instead of dropping it down to where I could use it.

In other words, the lights weren’t designed (probably purposely) to use low voltages.

So… no easy modification there.  But, on the bright side (see what I did there? LOL) they light up the cabin pretty nicely.  I can really only use them on shore power as I wouldn’t waste the battery power to run the inverter to run these lights.


I promise, they aren’t throwing out lightning bolts like a Tesla Coil. Though it looks cool. haha


One image showing part of the lighting.


Different image showing the rest of them.

Later, I’ll go on the hunt for strip lights from Amazon.com because they have everything a electronics geek could want to play with!

Water, Water everywhere, but not a drop to drink

Interesting day.

Today is Saturday, Day Two of the Memorial Day Siege of the Boaters, Drunks, and half-nekked people.  Woke up this morning to a relatively quiet marina… with no water.

Yup. Showers are down.  Toilets don’t flush.  And bowls are… umm… full.

I hiked up.  And hiked over to the office and ran into the manager.  He was not only aware, he was pretty frazzled this morning.

It appears that for the last three days they were filling the pool.

From two garden hoses.

Attached to the water system.

Which goes to a well.

If you understand how a well works, you might find this kind of funny by now.

If not, I’ll explain it a bit.

Wells are deep holes in the ground.  They are drilled or sometimes dug by hand.  In any case they go down to where the underground water table lives.  Usually there is rock, sand and clay down there and the water in the water table filters through that stuff to the bottom of the well, and then the water that collects is pumped out to the top, into the plumbing system where us normal humans can more easily gather and use it.

Now, when you pump a LOT of water out, the local water table tends to fade away while the distant water further filters through the dirt and sand to eventually get into the well.  There is a slight time delay in this of course.  So if you empty the well (the well runs dry) and when the well runs dry, the pumps can’t pump water.  In fact, water pumps using impellers (as most sailors who have a boat with an engine know) start to destroy themselves shortly after the water stops flowing.

This is when we military guys say “The excrement has hit the impeller device”.  Toilets with no water over flow… with… ummm… excrement.  Sinks no worky.  Kitchens fail to function.  Bars don’t open (sometimes).  And people stink because they get no showers.  And most of us don’t go to the bathroom in places where the bowls are already “full”.

In other words, no water means broken pump, which means no water pressure or any other kind of pressure.

Except the kind placed up on a poor, new manager of a marina on Day Two of the Memorial Day Siege of the Boaters, Drunks, and half-nekked people.  I felt sorry for him, as he appeared tired.

But, as a real life former military hero he stepped up to the plate got portapotties in place, a company working on the pumps and lo and behold in a few hours the water is back online!

Hallelujah, toilets flush, shower water flows, and boats with empty tanks (because they all took showers aboard this morning, except for JoAnne and I who refuse to waste precious DRINKING water on the boat to take a shower… lol)  can refill their empty tanks.  The whining and bitching stopped and it appears 90% of the current crowd is sitting over in the bar drinking and yelling as normal.

In the mean time, JoAnne and I took a trip to town… a 40+ mile round trip and found an absolutely wonderful, hidden diner called “Almost There” sitting on Route 360 near Tappahannock.  Fortunately, they also had a bathroom which I was happy to see for perhaps not-so-obvious reasons).

I ordered a “Western Omelette” which included some kind of very sweat jalapenos. Not spicy, but sweet.  And the omelette weight about two pounds.  It was HUGE.  And delicious. The biscuits and home fries were the best I’ve ever had in a restaurant (they can’t touch JoAnne’s cooking, but they were up there with hers).

I pondered the reasoning for the name of the place.  After looking around the place inside, I noted a lot of Bible quotes on the wall.  Ah.  I think I had it.  I surmise that “Almost There” means “Almost Heaven” at least from a yummy-in-my-tummy food feeling!

Honestly, I am not sure why they called it that, but that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Lastly, we went to the Lowes and ran into our friend Kurt there, buying plumbing stuff.  (Kurt Seastead is the page owner for the Transworld 41, the ship we own, which is how we met Kurt).

We bought some LED lights for the boat. More on the lights in a bit. Kurt and I knew each other were going to the Lowes so it wasn’t necessary a happenstance thing, but that we happened to run into one another was.  I mean we stopped and ate breakfast and Kurt had messaged me this morning offering to pick me up for a trip there.  I told him we might meet him or something.  Well, we did.

It appears Kurt and Sally might come to see the boat tomorrow.  So, I spend part of this afternoon sweating and cleaning.  Because, you know, we can’t be too cluttered on a boat we live on, now, can we?

I CAN walk into the Vee Berth now.  I can’t, however sleep in it (thank goodness and careful planning on my part so JoAnne doesn’t kick me out of bed…).

Tonight…. we have all the fans running.  Probably going to regret the electric bill later, but it has been HOT today.  JoAnne told me there’s a chance of rain tonight, and tomorrow and I’ll double check the weather because I want the enclosure back in place if it rains.  We still have leaks that I believe come from the cockpit area and want to minimize any more wood damage in the aft cabin.  Eventually, I’ll find them all and repair them, but in the mean time if I can’t fix it, mitigation is key.

I want to finish moving some stuff around tomorrow so as not to have clutter everywhere.

And we get to test those LED lights this evening.  They run on AC and not DC.  I checked the plug-in piece and it merely rectify the 120vac to 120vdc to run the LEDs.  So, I can’t plug it into 12vdc (which was my original hope).  So, tomorrow, I’ll be looking over some stuff I saw on Amazon, and working out costs for doing LED strip lights in side the cabins.  The lights we have pretty much suck for reading.

Even the lamps I’ve switched for LEDs just do not cut it for reading.  I’ll be working that out.

And that is all for the evening.  Tune in tomorrow to see if the lights work….correctly.